Eat Right India Campaign Launched to Control Non-communicable Diseases

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Dr Harsh Vardhan speaking at the launch of Eat Right India Campaign.

Abdul Bari Masoud | Caravan Daily

NEW DELHI — In the wake of rising non-communicable diseases in the country, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare on Friday advised that it’s time for India to “Eat Right”. The minister also kick-started a year-long social and mass media campaign on the Eat Right India movement here in collaboration with World Health Organisation(WHO).

Addressing the media on the occasion, Dr Vardhan flagged that the country is in need of a ‘Jan Andolan’ on preventive and promotive health for all in the backdrop of the increasing burden of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and heart diseases, widespread deficiencies of vitamins and minerals and rampant food borne illnesses.

He underlined that Eat Right India takes a holistic approach to food habits that promote health and sustainability. He mentioned that like ‘Green Good Deeds’, a campaign to protect the environment and promote good living in the country, has found global acceptance, the Eat Right India movement is also poised to become a global best practice with the support of national and international stakeholders.

When asked that a large number of children is still dying due to malnutrition and a sizable chunk of population is not getting two square meal of food, the minister said the government has launched many schemes to address these issues.

The Eat Right India movement is being helmed by FSSAI as a crucial preventive healthcare measure to trigger social and behavioural change through a judicious mix of regulatory measures, combined with soft interventions for ensuring awareness and capacity building of food businesses and citizens alike. This movement is aligned with the Government’s flagship public health programmes such as POSHAN Abhiyaan, Anemia Mukt Bharat, Ayushman Bharat Yojana and Swachh Bharat Mission.

FSSAI has put in place robust regulatory measures under three major pillars: Eat Safe, Eat Health and Eat Sustainably.

FSSAI has prescribed a limit for Total Polar Compounds (TPC) at 25% in cooking oil to avoid the harmful effects of reused cooking oil. Standards for five fortified staples – wheat flour, rice, oil, milk and salt to reduce large-scale deficiencies of vitamins and minerals have been notified, in addition to standards for health supplements, nutraceuticals, prebiotics and probiotics products.

To trigger informed consumer choices regulations on ‘Advertising and Claims’ and mandatory menu labeling has been notified. In addition, labeling provisions have been made for appropriate use of sweeteners for children and pregnant women. To reach the target of Trans-fat Free India by 2022, regulations to reduce trans-fats to less than 2% in all oils, fats and food products are in place. Promoting sustainability, FSSAI has removed the restriction on the use of returnable bottles and is promoting the use of bamboo instead of plastics.

The groundwork for escalating the Eat Right India Movement to the level of a Jan Andolan has been underway during the past few months.

Dr Vardhan urged the media to amplify the key message of this Jan Andolan to citizens and make it popular like Polio Mukt Bharat. Launching this movement on this platform with the support of stakeholders such as the World Health Organization, along with Ministers and delegates from South East Asian countries, is a landmark event, he added.

Leading with 1 tweet-a-day focusing on a weekly theme of eating right for the next 365 days, he also launched the new Eat Right India logo that represents a healthy plate, an online Eat Right Quiz, the Eat Right Online Course for frontline health-workers and the Eat Right India Store featuring merchandize to nudge right eating habits.

Speaking on the occasion, Regional Director of WHO, Poonam Khetrapal Singh said the Eat Right India movement’s message is close to the heart of what the WHO has been saying all along.

There has been a shift in the cause of mortality from communicable diseases to non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, cancer and so on, not only in India, but also across the world, she said.

 She suggested that the four main factors to prevent non-communicable diseases are healthy diet, physical exercise, avoidance of tobacco and alcohol. Therefore, the message of ‘Eat Right’ should be promoted everywhere. Citizens should choose healthy food and the food industry should manufacture healthy food.

Food businesses have participated in large-scale training and capacity building programs on ensuring food safety through the Food Safety Training and Certification (FoSTaC) initiative, under which over 1.7 lakh Food Safety Supervisors have been trained and certified.  Robust material in the form of Pink Book, Yellow Book, DART Book, informative videos etc are in place, and can be accessed through a video library on FSSAI’s website.

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